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Cats rule the internet. And, for many of us, they rule our lives and our homes, too. They demand we look at them, pet them, feed them, play with them, know when they want to be left alone, and—the list goes on. We’re also obligated to clean up after their stinky bathroom rituals (i.e., scoop the poop) on the daily. Can we all agree that, after “getting a faceful of claws,” cleaning up after our cat’s #2 is probably the #2 worst thing about being a kitty parent? Thankfully, this is 2023, folks. There’s no need to get your hands dirty in a nasty litter box anymore.
We’re living in a golden age of tech, including self-driving Teslas, pocket-sized computers, and gluten-free, dairy-free pizza. It’s also the era of the self-cleaning litter box (a.k.a. the automatic “robot litter box”). True to their name, these next-gen innovations (and great gift for cat lovers) promise to keep your cat’s box scooped, clean, and fresh without any intervention from you.
Not surprisingly, the best self-cleaning litter boxes are big, pricey, and incredibly complicated. That makes shopping for one complicated, too. But our cat-obsessed testers are here to do the dirty work (literally) for you. We researched and personally tested some of the most well-reviewed, top-selling models over the last six months. We compared everything from size and user-friendliness to price and, well, whether or not our kitties would even use them. These are our top seven picks for the best self-cleaning litter boxes of 2023.
Litter-Robot 4 Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
Our top pick for this year's best self-cleaning litter box was easy. The Litter-Robot 4 is the one to beat. It's a serious upgrade to Whisker's (already) great Litter-Robot 3 Connect, which is still a great buy and one we also recommend below. The latest model, however, features a sleek, modern design, easy-clean waste reservoir, quiet operation, and very intuitive features.
Our testers were unanimous in their decision that this is the best automatic robot litter box of 2023. For single-cat and multi-cat households, this model is perfect for them all. The design is clean and tasteful, so you won't feel like you have to hide it away. It's extremely quiet, too, and it didn't bother the humans or kitties in our months-long test homes. It was also more effective at removing dirty litter, especially smaller clumps, that many lesser models would routinely miss. We also loved how easy it was to clean, which, of course, is why you might spend upwards of $700 on a pet gadget like this in the first place.
Like all self-cleaning litter boxes, however, the Litter-Robot 4 isn't perfect. Aside from being the most expensive model we know of, it's also very big. Whisker claims that's no accident, that it's intentionally oversized to be as comfortable for cats as possible. Its most noticeable fault, however, is that it's not great for eliminating odor. If odor control is our #1 consideration, check out the PETKIT PuraX Self-Cleaning Litter Box (more on that below).
Litter-Robot 3 Connect & Ramp
Whisker is the name to beat in the self-cleaning litter box game. While its flagship Litter-Robot 4 is hands-down the best model we tested this year, its predecessor, the Litter-Robot 3, is still pretty darn good. Even though it's an older model, it offers many of the same great features, including WiFi capability, a carbon-filtered waste drawer, and a connected app with an intuitive interface to control everything.
Our panel of testers agreed that the first thing you'll notice about this model is the size. It's big, one of the biggest we've ever tested, at more than two feet on every side. But we found that to be a plus for two main reasons: It's easier for kitties to get in and out of, and the waste chamber is also larger than most, only requiring emptying every few weeks. Setup and overall user-friendliness topped almost every model we tested. Because it arrives pre-assembled, setting it up is just a matter of taking it out of the box and dropping it where you want it. Most of the features and options are handled via the smartphone app, which can also conveniently send push notifications to alert you when the drawer is full. Our two main gripes are the price and odor prevention, as we found our test model developed a noticeable smell after about a week.
Still, with many of the same features and specs of Whisker's latest model for about $100 less, the slightly older Litter-Robot 3 is a great buy. If you can live with last year's model (without all the "latest and greatest" features), it's still better than almost every other model we tested this year.
PuraX Self-Cleaning Litter Box
The PuraX Self-Cleaning Litter Box from Petkit is similar to our favorite model of 2023, the Litter-Robot 4. The aesthetic is just as sleek and clean, so it'll look reasonably good with almost any decor. The mechanism works identically, too, relying on a spinning drum to rotate and sift the litter, maximizing clump removal. Cleaning is handled either automatically (after your kitty does their business), manually, or on a schedule—your call.
Overall, our testers found this to be a great "runner-up" alternative to our top pick. It's quiet enough that neither our humans nor our picky test kitties were bothered by it. Plus, it's easy to clean and refill with new litter—slightly easier than both versions of the Litter-Robot, in our opinion. In our tests, we found this model to be the best at odor control. It locked in stink for more than a week.
Our biggest gripe with this model is the opening. At roughly half the size of the Litter-Robot's generous opening, the PuraX will definitely be too small for larger cats or older ones with mobility issues. "My calico is 16 years old and very tall, and she just couldn't fit into this one," noted one of our testers. Still, for kitten parents or those with smaller cats, this is a solid option.
ScoopFree Complete Smart Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
One of the most important considerations when shopping for a new self-cleaning litter box is the type of litter your cat prefers. Not all will use crystal- or silica-based litter (more on that below). But, if your kitty will, PetSafe's ScoopFree Complete Smart Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box is worth a look.
Our panelists agreed that this was one of the simplest self-cleaning litter boxes we tested this year. The boxy design isn't as sleek or futuristic as the premium options above. But we loved the compact design, which takes up about as much room as a traditional litter box. We especially liked how well it performed, too, finding it very effective at scooping the crystal litter, which it does automatically 20 minutes after your kitty finishes their business. The entire process is quiet and almost invisible to you and your cat, and the odor control is among the best of any box we tested. We also loved that the waste container only needed to be disposed of once a month (for households with one cat).
The convenience of simply tossing the entire waste and litter in the trash does mean you'll need to buy pricey crystal litter often. So, while the roughly $300 upfront price tag of this self-cleaning litter box sounds like a good deal, the per-month cost afterward can really add up. There's also a slightly cheaper Uncovered version that's perfect for larger cats.
Leo's Loo Too by Casa Leo
Ev-er-ee-thing is going "smart" these days, and that includes robot litter boxes. The Leo's Loo Too from Smarty Pear is the best internet-connected smart model we tested this year. It's sleek, quiet, has an oversized waste reservoir, and is even Alexa and Google Assistant compatible, so you can control your cat's toilet with your voice.
Our testers found a lot to love about this model, which is similar in many ways to Whisker's Litter-Robot line of self-cleaning litter boxes. We unanimously liked the clean, curvy, pod-like design that looks good in pretty much any room of the house. No need to "hide the litter box away." It works just like the best models with a rotating "drum" that sifts the litter through a grate, capturing the clumps, and emptying them into a lower chamber to be emptied later. The operation is extremely quiet, and our kitties had no issues with it other than being a little curious. We found the companion smartphone app to be decent but not as fun to use as Whisker's. But where this box shines (if you can say that about a cat's toilet) is the smart home connectivity, which allows for easy voice control.
Overall, the Litter-Robot is still our #1 (and #2) pick. But this is a fairly close second, especially if you're specifically looking for a smart, well-connected model. Like the best robot litter boxes, however, this one does come with a steep price tag, north of $600. It is available in a handful of cute colors, though. So, there's that.
X5 Self-Cleaning Litter Box
If you're more concerned with function over a flashy (and usually pricey) premium design, the X5 Self-Cleaning Litter Box from Popur is worth a look. Measuring 24 inches diagonally, the interior is larger than most we tested. Coupled with an open-top design, this box is a great option for oversized kitties and older cats with mobility issues who just won't (or can't) use a cramped, closed-top model. The larger size also allows it to accept more than 30 pounds of clumping litter, so it requires less frequent emptying and cleaning.
We liked almost everything about this model, but especially the generous size and quiet operation. "I have a big boy (almost 16 pounds) who requires a lot of room to do his business. He had no problems using this box," said one of our three-cat parents. In our other single-cat household tests, we found the waste reservoir only needed emptying every three weeks. It also kept odors at bay for more than a week, thanks mostly to the thick, double-lined trash bag design.
While this model lacks the curvy, design-savvy good looks of our more premium picks, it strikes a good balance between form and function. Plus, it's quiet, works as promised, and our kitties were happy to use it. With a roughly $400 price tag, it's a great midrange option if you're not eager to drop $600-$700 on a Whisker model.
Smart Scoop Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box
Of course, if you don't want to (or just can't) drop $500-$600 on the best self-cleaning litter box, we get it. They ain't cheap. Pet Zone's Smart Scoop Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box is a dead-simple alternative that's perfect for budget-conscious kitty parents. There are no fancy features on this one—no smart mobile app or automatic room deodorizing spray or kitty bidet (kidding). It's just a straightforward self-cleaning litter box that rakes the dirty litter clumps out of the box, so you don't have to.
Our testers agreed that we couldn't compare this model to the ultra-luxe options from Whisker and Petkit. We all agreed the aesthetic is purely functional (compared to the sleek, minimalist design of the best models), and the all-plastic construction feels distinctly cheaper than any other we tested. Still, we were surprised by how well it performed. The automatic rake starts 30 minutes after your cat last used the box, and we found it to be quiet and effective.
This model does include a handful of plastic waste bags and a carbon filter, but that's about it. Its biggest selling point, however, is the price. At around $160 (less than $150 on sale), it's roughly a quarter of the price of the most premium options. So, if you're looking for a no-frills automatic robot litter box that does the job, this is worth a look.
What to look for when shopping for the best self-cleaning litter box
All of the self-cleaning robot litter boxes we tested accomplish the same goal—keeping your cat’s potty clean automagically—but in different ways and with varying degrees of effectiveness. No matter which model is right for you, however, we found that these are the most important considerations:
Robot litter boxes are notoriously big. You might be surprised to learn just how big. That’s why size is arguably the most important consideration. Measure your available space just to be sure it’ll even fit in your home where you need it to. Also, note the opening size (some are quite small) to know whether your kitty will actually be able to get inside the box in the first place. If not, nothing else matters.
Cat litter compatibility
Many of the best automatic litter boxes are designed to work with a variety of cat litter types. Some struggle with wood-based litter or any other type that softens when wet. The best option, in our opinion, is any hard-clumping litter like clay, as this tends to scoop and clean up better than any alternative. Silica crystals are another good option, as they’re good at absorbing odors and minimizing dust. It’s worth noting that some cats dislike or simply refuse to use silica-based litter, however. The only way to know for sure is with an in-home trial, and remember to acclimate your kitty to any new litter slowly.
There’s no getting around it: Robot litter boxes are expensive. The cheapest options start at nearly $200, while the best self-cleaning litter boxes run north of $600. Some also require buying proprietary bags, cleaning solutions, and other accessories, and those additional costs can really add up over time.
Do self-cleaning litter boxes work?
In our tests, we found that the best self-cleaning robot litter boxes absolutely work as advertised. It’s worth noting, however, that most reduce the smell of your cat’s waste but may not eliminate it completely. It really comes down to how well and often you clean the waste container. So, how easy (or not) it is to clean is worth noting when shopping for a new model.
What is the best litter to use for a self-cleaning litter box?
Most self-cleaning litter boxes will work with several types of litter. Hard clumping litter works best, as it condenses cat waste into small, manageable clumps, and the remaining loose litter is sifted away. We recommend avoiding wood pellets (like pine), as the large size of the pellets can jam most automatic litter boxes.
Are self-cleaning litter boxes OK for cats?
All of the self-cleaning litter boxes we tested are mechanically safe for cats. The big question is whether or not your kitty will be happy to use one. Some cats, particularly those who are skittish or startle easily, may dislike the noise and movements of an automatic box.
How we chose the best self-cleaning litter boxes
We love our cats, so the most important consideration for bringing a new “thing” into their world is that they’re comfortable with it. That’s why our panel of testers ensured that all of our picks were kitty-approved before sharing them with you. Second, we noted every feature and spec of the models we tested, including the overall dimensions, entry dimensions, ease of use, odor elimination, how complicated (or not) they were to clean, and, of course, price. In the end, we settled on the seven models above as this year’s best self-cleaning litter boxes worth buying.
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